Sergey Kovalev, Marcus Browne agree to deal for 175-pound title bout on HBO
Sergey Kovalev’s last two opponents were challengers with no prayer of winning. Not the case with his next foe.
A deal has been struck to match Kovalev, the WBO light heavyweight titleholder, against Marcus Browne on HBO, a source with knowledge of the agreement told THE RING. Contracts haven’t been signed yet, but the fight will take place in either June or July at New York’s Madison Square Garden, likely at Hulu Theater at MSG. BoxingScene first reported the news.
Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 knockouts) defended his 175-pound belt with a seventh-round stoppage of obscure Russian fighter Igor Mikhalkin earlier this month. That performance following a three-round shellacking of Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, but Browne figures to present a much stiffer test.
The 2012 U.S. Olympian is a strong, athletic power-punching contender from Staten Island, New York, and he’s hungry for his first title opportunity. A purse bid remains scheduled this week for a fight between Browne and IBF titleholder Artur Beterbiev, but that will soon be scrapped once the contract is signed.
Browne (21-0, 16 KOs) has proven to be one of the best light heavyweights in the world (rated No. 9 by THE RING), but this will be his first time fighting an elite opponent.
Kovalev, 34, was stopped by Andre Ward last summer, but he remains THE RING’s No. 9 fighter regardless of weight, as well as the top-rated boxer at 175 pounds, and he’ll be favored to take care of Browne.
Browne, a 27-year-old southpaw, scored a first-round KO of Francy Ntetu in January. Now, he’ll find out if he has what it takes to finally call himself champion.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger